Pennsylvania Lawmaker to Propose Ban on Human Silhouette Targets

   01.13.15

In the gun world, there are as few things as ubiquitous as the human silhouette target. Whether it’s made out of paper or steel, silhouette targets can be found in gun ranges across the United States and are a mainstay for firearm practice, competition shooting, and law enforcement training. Despite their popularity, human-shaped targets have been criticized by gun control advocates who believe that the targets “perpetuate violence.” Taking it one step further, Pennsylvania Representative Thaddeus Kirkland (D-Chester) has announced that he will be introducing legislation to ban the use of human silhouette targets at gun ranges.

“Rather than perpetuate violence by continuing to allow individuals to practice their target shooting by shooting at human silhouette targets at shooting ranges, my legislation will prohibit the use of targets that depict human silhouettes at shooting ranges across the Commonwealth. Instead, silhouette targets could include, but are not limited to the following: white-tailed deer, black bear, wild turkey, and elk,” he wrote.

The news of the upcoming legislation was not well-received among gun owners, and many took to online forums to vent their frustration. Shooting enthusiasts argue that human-shaped targets are not only essential for self-defense practice, but are used in many sporting competitions as well. Nick Leghorn, a popular writer on the blog The Truth About Guns, wrote that “By signaling his intent to ban human-shaped targets, Rep. Kirkland is also signaling the fact that he doesn’t care about [gun owners] and would prefer them to be poorly trained, simply to satisfy his need for the targets to ‘look’ peaceful.”

Yet Pennsylvania is not the first state to consider a ban on human-shaped targets. Massachusetts has already banned the use of any shooting targets in licensed gun ranges “that depict human figures, human effigies, human silhouettes or any human images thereof, except by public safety personnel performing in line with their official duties.”

Kirkland similarly included an exception for law enforcement officers and military personnel. In the memo, Kirkland called for others in the Pennsylvania House to join him in co-sponsoring the legislation, which will be an amendment to Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes.

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